The Drum Awards Festival - Official Deadline

-d -h -min -sec

Creative Artificial Intelligence Getty Images

Getty Images to modernize stock photo hunting in deal with AI platform Cortex


By Bennett Bennett, Staff writer

May 21, 2018 | 7 min read

Getty Images has announced a partnership with AI platform Cortex, to create a solution for creatives that recommends the best Getty Images content for social media campaigns.

AI Stock Photography

Getty Images' recent partnership with AI platform Cortex looks to ease the stock imagery search for creatives / Fatos Bytyqi via Unsplash

The program launched last month and has allowed creatives to better scour the database’s 80m still images and illustrations. This has been possible through the AI’s analysis, which has already allowed over 33,000 brands to predict what color schemes, imagery, and keywords perform best on social media.

Cortex currently has a list of customers across several industries that includes Heineken, Hulu, Jack Daniels and Marriott. Results have come in from the launch already: Cortex has said in a statement that marketers using the tool to create content outperformed their industry benchmarks by up to 300% and save an average of 8.5 hours per user per week.

Said Brennan White, chief executive of Cortex: “The main problem that our customers were facing was they had to try to supply content for that insatiable need, for a kind of desire or appetite, for content for today’s audiences. On all the major channels. Just in the past decade, all our clients are putting out and creating a few hundred pieces of content a year on those channels, to thousands a month on those channels.”

The problem, White said, that Cortex has tried to solve is one faced by creatives of all kinds: “To create that content to serve, serve as that need to be present on every single channel that their audience wanted them to be on.” This, up until the launch of this SaaS platform, was a task that social media managers, designers and other creatives try to do manually, to which White said, “They tried to shovel faster. And that only goes so far,” he continued, citing Marriott, one of the brand’s international clients, as an example saying: “They have some 30 brands. Each one of those brands is creating thousands of unique pieces of content every month. So the Cortex mission is to make that faster, to make that easier, to allow that to scale to the consumer's desire while supporting the creatives.”

It’s data that’d support a creative decision, he added, “Giving them the data-driven kind of recommendations and support, so that when their boss or when their constituents ask why they’re making these choices, they can defend those choices. It’s so they can say, ‘we made this call because the data said that this is the most optimal or most likely to succeed.’

This partnership has been one announced by the Seattle-headquartered company as part of its “everywhere strategy,” in which it partners up with high-performing startups that are aligned with Getty’s benefits and mission for photographers and creatives.

Andrew Hamilton, Getty Images’ senior vice president of data and insights, has developed a team for the purpose of pulling together partnerships such as this, to reflect what the company calls its commitment and experimentation for the sake of its consumers and partners.

Hamilton said to The Drum: “I'm in a fortunate position where there's lots of companies, especially startups, that know the Getty brand and are familiar with Getty Images that reach out to work with us and look for ways to partner.”

Although he supposed that it’s a good thing, Hamilton said that the company has its set criteria for such partnerships. He added: “It means we have to be very focused on who we do work with. So it's critical for us to one, look at what the company is doing, if its compelling and in an area of AI or innovation, or has a capability that we don’t have, but also something we can’t readily build.”

Secondly, his team has asked when looking for potential partners: “Is it something that by working with them that will help us reach a deeper relationship and, and do more for our customers?”

Finally, his team pondered: “Does the partnership part of it make sense? Is there a way for us to make that product better and just share value?” Hamilton felt this about Cortex, adding: “It helps them and us as a company create a better product that opened doors and reach customers. And there’s long-term assets for this.”

Getty and Cortex had worked on at least one more ‘one-off’ project together, but Hamilton added that there’s “probably another half a dozen things that Brennan and I talked about doing together.”

White and Hamilton also addressed chatter over the past few months regarding AI and stock imagery not being deemed inclusive enough. Said White: “From the Cortex perspective, no. When a client comes to a cortex recommendation for data, we’re looking at all types of things, size, color, objects and images, ages of humans could have all these different, features from a data science perspective, and what we really need from a partner like Getty is a large database to pull and draw insights from."

Added Hamilton: “We're hung on reflecting the needs and the desire of our audiences, and artificial intelligence and Brennan and the team built to go in and use that Getty collection for that express purpose. At the end of the day, brands are making the final choices, right? Hopefully, they're also wanting to make inclusive choices themselves.”

Overall, Hamilton said he hoped that this makes finding and using quality content easier, adding: “Almost every challenge a customer has boils down to picking a better picture, whether it's for a particular campaign or for a particular use or whatever it is. They're always sitting in front of a screen full of choices or a blank search bar trying to translate what's in their head to what they actually need and want. So for us, moving from just licensing content to helping them solve problems and get the best out of that context, it's a really exciting space for us to be moving into.”

White added: “The vision for AI and creatives working together is really important and exciting.” He hoped this bucks conversations around AI stealing and taking jobs from the creative industries, talks that have risen in intensity after the Adobe’s Experience and Marketing Cloud announcement at March's Adobe Summit.

He continued, “I think for creative AI, it has the potential to be the best thing to happen to the creative generation. As the business world has become more data-driven, more numbers driven, more software-driven, creatives haven't been served very well by that segment of technology because it doesn't immediately lend itself to an obvious account where you can very quickly get data and easily have conversations around creative discussion.”

This new platform, both White and Hamilton said, will empower creatives, and allow them to democratize these processes in ways they haven’t been able to before AI. Said White, “That's why we're really excited. That's why we're here."

Creative Artificial Intelligence Getty Images

More from Creative

View all


Industry insights

View all
Add your own content +